Lesson 20: Elementary Kanji Part 2

Lesson 17 taught you some elementary kanji. I hope you have been practicing, because now it is time to learn another set! Review Lesson 17 if it has been a while since you practiced your kanji. Keep in mind that kanji is really essential for serious students of Japanese—the symbols are used in everyday written Japanese and appear on many signs and menus throughout Japan!

Take a look at the chart below, read through the notes, and complete the exercises to get started on this second set of kanji. There will be an answer key blow the exercises, so don’t scroll down too far until you have completed the work!

The Kanji

1. よう Weekday
2. うえ/じょう Up, above
3. した/か Down, below
4. なか/ちゅう/じゅう Middle, inside
5. わたし/し I, private
6. いま/こん Now
7. To see
8. い/こう To go
9. To eat
10. To drink


The kanji presented above have their most common readings listed beside them. The English listed in the last column is a rough translation (or one of the translations) that the kanji can have. After reading through this note section, you will be able to understand more clearly what each individual kanji is used for.

The first kanji is used when writing the days of the week. Each name for a day of the week has the syllables よう in it. You have already learned the kanji for each day of the week as well as the kanji for day. Now all you have to do is put the three together. Remember, the kanji for “day” will go at the end and this new kanji for よう will go in the middle!

The next three kanji symbols will help you with location words. 上 is used when you want to say that one object is on top of another. The second reading for this kanji is used when talking about a person being good at some activity. The adjective for “to be good at” is 上ずな. We will cover how to use this adjective in a later lesson.

The kanji forした is used when you want to say an object is below something else. The second reading for this kanji is commonly used when writing the word for “subway” (地下鉄). The kanji for なか is used when saying one object is inside of another. The second reading is used when reading the word for China (中国) and the third is used when talking about years.

Kanji number five is a very useful kanji. This is the kanji you use in place of私, or “I.” Both males and females can use this pronoun and this kanji. The second reading of this kanji is used when the kanji means “private” such as in “private university” (私立大学).

The sixth kanji is used when you are talking about something happening right “now.” いま means “now.” It is also used to write the words for “today” and “tonight” (hint: the word for “today is written with this kanji plus the kanji for day). Tonight is written as 今晩.

The final four kanji are used most often as verbs. We are going to concentrate on those readings and meanings the most. Each of the kanji represents a syllable that makes up a verb you have learned. For the remaining syllables of the verbs, hiragana symbols must be used. 行 can also be used to write the word for “bank” (銀行).

Now that you have learned some information about each kanji, take some time to memorize the symbols. It may also be helpful to look up a stroke dictionary on the internet (or buy a paper version). Stroke dictionaries will show you the stroke count and which stroke comes first. Practice writing the kanji until you feel comfortable with each symbol.

Exercise I

Write the following words using kanji where appropriate (it is okay to have some hiragana symbols in some of your answers).

  1. Verb for “to eat.”
  2. Today
  3. I
  4. Verb for “to see.”
  5. Inside
  6. Above
  7. Verb for “to drink.”
  8. Now
  9. Verb for “to go.”
  10. Monday
  11. Tuesday
  12. Wednesday
  13. Thursday
  14. Friday
  15. Saturday
  16. Sunday
  17. Under

Exercise II

Transcribe the following kanji and hiragana into romaji or English.

  1. 飲みもの
  2. 食べもの
  3. ぎん行
  4. 見る
  5. 飲む
  6. 行く
  7. 食べる
  8. 今日
  9. 今ばん

Exercise III

Translate the following sentences from Japanese to English.

  1. 月曜日私はぎん行に行きます。
  2. 今日はどう曜日です。
  3. なにを食べますか。
  4. えいがを見ましょう。
  5. 私の本はつくえの上です。


Answer Key

Exercise I

  1. 食べます
  2. 今日
  3. 見ます
  4. 飲みます
  5. 行きます
  6.  月曜日
  7. 火曜日
  8. 水曜日
  9. 木曜日
  10. 金曜日
  11. 土曜日
  12. 日曜日

Exercise II

  1. Nomimono / drinks
  2. Tabemono / food
  3. Ginkou / bank
  4. Miru / dictionary form “to see”
  5. Nomu / dictionary form “to drink”
  6. Iku / dictionary form “to go”
  7. Taberu / dictionary form “to eat”
  8. Kyou / today
  9. Konban / tonight
  10. Ima / now

Exercise III

  1. I will go to the bank on Monday.
  2. Today is Saturday.
  3. What will you eat?
  4. Let’s watch a movie.
  5. My book is on top of the desk.

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